When Lith regained his senses, he was back in the Main Hall at the ground floor of the academy.
While getting up slowly, trying to shake off the lingering effects of the hit at the back of his head, he noticed that the Hall was filling up quickly.
There were lots of Warp Steps opened.
Some were being left active, allowing students from the fourth floor of the White Griffon to reach the Hall.
Most of the Warp Steps, though, were used by Professors going to and fro the forest, bringing back the students one by one.
- I guess that the third day marked the moment when the magical beasts stopped holding back.
Yeah. Solus said, glad to feel the safety of the castle walls all around them.
Honestly, I am kind of surprised that so many people managed to survive this long.
Not to brag, but I was sure our group would be the one lasting longer.
I didn\'t. Lith replied.
There are too many variables to consider, like who had been warned beforehand by a relative, hence coming fully prepared, or how much time they spent outside.
Not to mention that maybe some groups were just lucky, being comprised of people that were actually able to cooperate, instead of needing someone that guided them step by step. –
Judging from the expressions of his schoolmates, no one had any idea what they were waiting for, or why they had been summoned back into the Hall.
While he was still looking around, Lith noticed that his team had gathered around him.
Seems you were right. Visen said.
There wasn\'t much I could learn by getting my a*s handed to me.
You should have understood that teamwork is vital, but being able to stand for yourself is equally important. Trasque rebuked him.
I mean, seriously Why so few of you have used first magic during the whole exercise The Headmaster will not let me hear the end of this.
He is even considering to have you all retake the whole class from the beginning with a different teacher!
Well… Visen tried to be as considerate as possible toward the Professor.
First magic is good, but what could I have possibly achieved with it I was trying to help my companions, they needed my arrays.
Trasque glared at him, clenching his fists.
Well, for example you could have blinded the Cingy, so that when you attempted to dodge, it would haven\'t been able to intercept you.
A failed array can be re-done, a fallen member cannot be resurrected.
Next time, instead of playing the hero, consider the bigger picture.
Among those who heard him, most took Trasque\'s words to heart.
Aside from conjuring water to drink, very few of them had ever considered using first magic, deeming it useless.
Remembering how she had used first magic to more easily slay the Clackers, Phloria stood straight as an arrow.
Lith, on the other hand, could not stop rejoicing at the idea of getting rid of those blockheads once and for all.
When all the students were assembled, the Headmasters stepped forward.
First of all, allow me to welcome every one of you back.
That said, I have bad news and good news.
The bad news, is that contrary to what many could believe, this was still a mock exam.
Hence no matter if you lasted one hour, one day or three, you all get zero points.
Linjos took a pause, letting the groans and curses to die out before resuming his speech.
This was your last wake-up call, from now on you are on your own.
This time, Linjos didn\'t keep still while talking, he walked among the various groups, like a general inspecting his troops.
You should have learned that your name, status and bloodline aren\'t going to protect you from an enemy, no matter how important you consider yourself.
It\'s not only in the wilderness that such things hold no value, but also in the whole world.
Do you really expect for everyone to respect or fear a feeble thing like a name When you are outside the safety of your home, no one will ask you to introduce yourself before attacking.
You should also have realized that petty behaviours create resentment.
Many groups crumbled from the start, either due to past grudges or simply because some of you were deemed untrustworthy.
Last, but not least, it seems that many of you didn\'t understand the nature of this test.
It was meant to show you a glimpse of what a real battle is, to allow you to fraternize and overcome your differences.
You were supposed to help and teach each other, not to barely lump together because you were said so. Linjos stared at several students, that seemed to shrink under his gaze.
The week deadline was just a pretext, I never expected that some of you would the gall to hole up, hiding the whole time.
This isn\'t a law school, what could you possibly learn from bending the rules
The exercise is worth zero points, but such attitude cannot be tolerated.
Any open violation of the rules will be punished by deducting points.
As for the good news, points will be awarded to those that according to their possibilities, helped their teammates.
While the points\' deduction is individual, those gained by all team members will be pooled and divided equally among those that cooperated.
Otherwise it would be unfair toward those that sacrificed themselves during the first day, or that fell because of someone else\'s mistake.
Also, I didn\'t lie when I told you it would last seven days.
For the remaining four, you have no classes, you are free to rest, go home or self-study.
It\'s up to you to decide.
I hope that you will make good use of this time to think about this experience and learn from you mistakes.
After saying goodbye to his ex-teammates, Lith jumped in the nearest Warp Steps, walking double time towards his room.
He and his bathroom had some serious catch up to do.
No matter how Visen had made the makeshift outhouse comfortable, it couldn\'t compare with a real toilet.
Lith could finally use Invigoration, getting his strength back and relieving his sore muscles.
He spent the next half an hour taking a long hot tub bath, while conjuring several ice mirrors to get rid of the few facial hairs that haunted is still childish visage and cutting his hair with air magic.
- Seems I was right about this exercise. Solus said while helping him with his cut.
Without her help, Lith would have looked like an IRS clerk on a Monday morning.
Did you have any doubt Lith replied, still wondering after all those years what was wrong with the haircut he had back on Earth.
It\'s a system devised to teach stuck-up, conceited kids respect and discipline.
Once you understand its goal, the rest comes easy.
With a brain like yours, cracking the code was easy like connecting the dots numbered from 1 to 7. –
Solus would have liked to get praised more, but Lith\'s stomach kept grumbling loudly more and more often.
With a heavy heart, Lith dressed up.
He would have much preferred to sleep for the next 24 hours, but hunger was still one of the things that scared him the most.
He needed to eat and re stock.
He was already headed toward the canteen when Solus stopped him.
- Aren\'t you forgetting something
My pants are on and I have yet to plagiarize and sell underwear.
So my answer is no.
Your friends from the Healer class, silly.
It\'s the perfect moment to get together and bond a little.
After the mock exam, you surely have many things to share with each other.
Please, have mercy.
I\'m so tired already, maybe next time. Lith cringed at the idea.
I\'m here only to hoard knowledge and connections. Solus said while making her best Lith\'s brooding tone impression.
I have no time to waste, I need valuable pawns once I become an adult again. –
Arguing with himself was beyond stupid, so he went to their rooms to invite them to an early dinner.
When it was Friya\'s turn, she had just finished washing herself too.
Her cheeks where still rosy from the hot water.
That coupled with the sweet smell of her skin and hair made Lith dizzy for a second.
- Stupid body.
Whenever it decides to grow, it will always be too late.
Come on, she is so pretty. Solus still wanted her school romance, even if just as a spectator.
What\'s wrong with a fling
She is a kid and I am old enough to be her father.
Everything is wrong with that! –
Once at the canteen, no one actually spoke for a while.
They were all too focused on eating the first proper meal in days.
Only after the second serving they began to share their stories.
So, how long did you manage to last Lith asked hiding his sour mood behind a radiant smile.
My group was one of the last returning to the castle. Yurial didn\'t miss the opportunity to show off.
Everyone agreed making me the leader…
Lucky b*stard. Poser. Smartass. He ignored the crossfire of name-calling.
Yurial was aware of the power his father\'s status granted to him, so he accepted their envy with class.
… hence I managed to quickly make them assume a defensive formation.
When the beasts arrived, they found us prepared.
The worst part was standing watch at night in turns, sleeping in the open and eating grass and fruits all the time.
Yeah. Friya agreed.
The lack of food and the dirt were terrible.
My group was comical, we had two skilled hunters, but none knew how butcher the preys.
The smell of blood lured so many animals that we had to throw the game away and look for another place where to sleep.
In the end we didn\'t find any, so when the we got attacked during the second day after a sleepless night, we lost two members at once.
After escaping by skin of our teeth, we surrendered the next morning.
We failed at making a decent camp again, and with no sleep at all we were barely standing when the sun rose.
What about you, Quylla
She was grinning from ear to ear.
It was awesome! Best two days of my life. Her answer caught everyone by surprise.
Care to explain Lith asked.
Sure! First, you have to understand that everyone was pissed at me, since I\'m the top of the healing class.
One of the top students. The other three remarked as one.
Sure, whatever. It didn\'t escape their notice that Quylla seemed much more confident and fierier than before.
Since they knew being second rate at best, they started to call me \'just a healer\' and ordered me to \'not be in the way\'.
So, when the attack happened, I did as they told me and ran like the wind on my own.
When the others managed to catch up with me, after being forced running away, I learned that our self-proclaimed leader had been pummelled by a Sym, a monkey type magical beast.
They started calling me a coward, and trying to put the blame of the defeat on me.
At that point, knowing that we were being watched, I gave them a solid piece of my mind.
I told them that for all I cared we could fail from day one, and that I had no intention of letting them treat me like trash for a second longer.
Things quickly escalated, and when one of them tried to hit me, Professor Vastor appeared, beating the cr*p out of all of them!